Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and take the First Nations Waste Less Challenge!

For one month, three youth from Six Nations, Alyssa General, Christopher Martin and Chelsey Johnson, will take on the challenge of producing as little waste as possible and will be documenting their experience through weekly articles in the Two Row Times, on Facebook, and the Six Nations Waste Less website.

Each of them are dedicated to the challenge and have demonstrated a genuine interest in protecting Mother Earth throughout their lives.

The Six Nations Waste Less project is a Six Nations Youth Council initiative that will promote recycling and reducing waste in the community.

In the coming weeks there will be a series of educational workshops, weekly community challenges, how-to articles and volunteers who are participating in an entire month of producing zero waste.

Zero waste… Can it be done? Meet our Challenge Participants…



Name:  Alyssa M. General

Age: 27

Occupation: Illustrator with Tsi Tyonnheht Onkwawenna and Artist Educator with Royal Conservatory of Music – Learning Through the Arts Program.

Children: 1

Why did you choose to participate?

As a parent I want to model for my child the roles and responsibilities we have to the earth. We live in a fine balance with the rest of creation and we often disregard the importance of that relationship. I want to return to honouring our connection to the earth and encourage others to realize that this change is within our grasp.

How much waste do you currently produce?

About a small waste basket of waste per week. In the last couple of years I have been making changes to recycle more, compost more and be more aware of packaging.

What are the main items that you throw away?

Smaller items like tissues, candy wrappers, food containers or the odd plastic bag. A lot of the waste I accumulated was from restaurants.

How much do you currently recycle?

As much as possible. There are still times though when I throw out things I know can be recycled, more often when I am cleaning out my car. I am on the road quite a bit and at times there isn’t much access to recycling.

What do you anticipate will be the most difficult part of this challenge?

I currently have a cold, so the most difficult part of this week is going to be the tissue issue. I am going to sew myself up some handkerchiefs this week. Part of me is a little grossed out by the idea of a handkerchief, but it also has a touch of charm to it.

How have you prepared yourself for this challenge?

Being more mindful of my purchases and really looking at the packaging of a product. It’s made me chose differently when grocery shopping. I try to do most of my grocery shopping at the farmer’s market rather than the grocery store. There is a lot less packaging and its really nice supporting local farmers.



Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 9.18.23 PM


Name: Chelsey Johnson

Age: 25

Occupation: Six Nations Youth Council capacity building

Children: None

Why did you choose to participate?

Solving global warming and climate change became a large topic of interest for me in high school. But I didn’t feel I was living the environmentally friendly way I was expecting others to live. Now I feel like it’s time for me to walk the walk that I’ve been talking about for so long.

How much waste do you currently produce in a week?

At least one grocery sized bag of waste per week. That being said, I have started to seriously reduce my waste in recent months and would normally produce more if I were not being conscious about garbage. I haven’t used a plastic water bottle in over 2 months and I used to use about five plastic water bottles per week.

What are the main items that you throw away? 

Paper items such as receipts and tissues, and packaging or wrappers for food.

How much do you currently recycle?

As much as I can, but it’s a lot of work. I plan on upping my recycling game by incorporating more recycling bins, sorted into paper, plastic, glass, and metal in my kitchen.

What do you anticipate will be the most difficult part of this challenge?

Not being able to buy a lot of food that’s in packaging. Maybe I’ll lose weight which would be an added benefit! I love eating Cliff bars and not having that convenience is going to be difficult to adjust to.

How have you prepared yourself for this challenge?

By reducing my demand for wasteful items such as plastic water bottles. Even though they can be recycled it doesn’t mean we should be treating them as if they’re a renewable resource. Plastic is not good for the environment and the more we can do to reduce our demand for plastic, the better. I now only use refillable glass or stainless steel water bottles.



chris martin

Name: Chris Martin

Age: 24

Occupation: Environmental Field Technical Assistant. I’m working on a master drainage study for our creeks and tributaries on the reserve.

Children: 1 – a two year old son named Everett.

Why did you choose to participate?

I am sick of talking about things we need to do for our environment, so now I have been given the opportunity to actually do them. It will be hard living the way I do but I am willing to challenge myself.

How much waste do you currently produce in a week?

A lot of waste. When I eat at a restaurant or drive through somewhere I have created waste. Through convenience I will buy snacks which come in a package which then have to be thrown away. I am aware of that though so I try and stay away from the junk food. I would say the majority of my waste is definitely food and coffee related.

What are the main items that you throw away?

I would say coffee filters, styrofoam containers, packaging, tissues, wax-coated coffee cups, paper towels, sandwich bags and plastic bags. When it comes to my son it gets a little ridiculous because of the diapers and wet-wipes.

How much do you currently recycle?

I truly recycle as much as I can. I will hold onto my empty water bottles or pop cans. I take the lid off of my coffee cup. I recycle my paper. I recycle my cardboard and plastic packaging.

What do you anticipate will be the most difficult part of this challenge?

The most difficult aspect will be actually training my mind to think about my actions, discarding convenience and adapting to the challenge.

How have you prepared yourself for this challenge?

I will be carrying a lot of reusable materials on hand such as plates and silverware. I will have towels and rags. I will be buying fresher food and buying more for the bulk. Now I also have to be real, I will not be able to change over-night. It is going to take practice and I look forward to the experience.


If you’d like to follow along and take the challenge you can join in from home. Send us your feedback and pictures. Here are the rules:

Participants must refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle or compost waste for an entire month

Participants can still drive their cars and ride in motor vehicles

Participants can still use toilet paper

If participants find there is something that cannot be reused, recycled, or composted, they will collect those items for discussion at the end of the month

This week’s challenge: Track your garbage output for one whole week to get a better idea of how much waste you actually produce. Write down the results and identify some simple places you can reduce your waste.

For updates on the project, information on workshops, helpful tips, and more you can check out our Facebook Challenge Group here or our website.

Related Posts